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Old March 1st, 2006, 06:22 PM   #81
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Alitalia denies clash with auditor over '05 loss

ROME, March 1 (Reuters) - Alitalia denied a report that it had clashed with Deloitte & Touche on its 2005 results, in which the airline sharply narrowed its losses, saying on Wednesday the auditor was still reviewing its accounts.

Italy's leading financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore wrote that Deloitte had objected to Alitalia's reporting of extraordinary gains that helped limit losses last year to 167.6 million euros ($200.2 million).

That compared with losses of 858 million euros in 2004.

The airline added that Alitalia's Chief Executive Giancarlo Cimoli had not met with Deloitte auditors to discuss the results, as Il Sole reported.

Alitalia's shares were trading 0.2 percent higher on Wednesday at 1.265 euros per share, compared with a 0.3 percent rise on Milan's Mibtel index <.MIBTEL> at 1336 GMT.
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Old March 11th, 2006, 01:55 AM   #82
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Alitalia says it still expects to post profit in 2006 despite strikes, bad weather
10 March 2006

ROME (AP) - Alitalia said on Friday that it still expects to post a profit in 2006 despite a spate of strikes and bad weather which buffeted the struggling Italian airline earlier this year.

"The board of directors, on the basis of an estimate for the first three months of the year and assuming no further negative events such as those of last January, including the weather-related ones, confirmed the target of a positive result" for 2006, the airline said after a board meeting.

Alitalia said the strikes and bad weather cost the company some euro80 million (US$95 million).

In January, several days of strikes forced the airline to cancel hundreds of flights. Heavy snow in northern Italy also hurt service.

Workers have been protesting the company's turnaround plan, which includes job cuts and splits the carrier's flight business from the ground services unit.
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Old June 27th, 2006, 06:02 AM   #83
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Government to seek unions approval for Alitalia plans

MILAN, June 26 (Reuters) - Italy's new centre-left government will discuss with unions any plans for flag carrier Alitalia , a policy change that may avoid the repeated labour strikes which plagued Alitalia over the past two years.

"The government has yet to decide on Alitalia's future," Italy's Economic Devolopment Minister Pierluigi Bersani told journalists on the sidelines of an event in Piacenza.

"We're studying the problem and, naturally, whatever the solution we will first discuss it with the unions."

Alitalia's 10 unions have battled with Chief Executive Giancarlo Cimoli for the past two years as he cut a fifth of the workforce, sold the ground services unit to state holding company Fintecna and as the government cut its stake to just under 50 percent.

Cimoli's attempts to push through his cuts, backed by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government, resulted in repeated labour actions and wild cat strikes that cost the carrier tens of millions of euros.

Alitalia hasn't posted an operating profit in the last four years. The Rome-based company said its operating loss widened to 128.8 million euros ($162.1 million) in the first three months of the year, as fuel costs and strikes weighed on results.

Revenues fell 3.1 percent to 965 million euros against the same period in 2005.
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Old July 5th, 2006, 10:43 PM   #84
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Alitalia gets conditional OK for Volare buy

ROME, July 5 (Reuters) - Italy's competition watchdog on Wednesday gave its conditional approval for Alitalia's to buy smaller Volare airline, which has valuable runway slots at Milan's Linate airport.

The Antitrust authority said that Alitalia would have to relinquish two national slots operated by Volare at Linate and two of its own slots for flights from Linate to Paris.

But the authority's approval does not solve all of the problems faced by Alitalia in its planned 38-million-euro ($48.50 million) acquisition of Volare.

The acquisition has been put on hold since May by Italy's highest appeals court for administrative affairs because of formal irregularities in the bid selection process.

And the court still has to make a final ruling on the matter.

Alitalia chief executive Giancarlo Cimoli has estimated that Alitalia could lose 125 million euros in revenue by 2008 if Volare went to Alitalia's closest domestic rival, Air One.

Volare collapsed under heavy losses and debt more than a year ago. It had some 700 employees, of whom about 70 percent were pilots and cabin crew, according to Alitalia. ($1=.7834 Euro)
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Old July 13th, 2006, 05:33 PM   #85
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Alitalia may see management shake-up -govt official
By Paolo Biondi

ROME, July 13 (Reuters) - Italy's largest airline Alitalia may see a management shake-up in the coming days as part of a review of some state-controlled firms by the new government, Economy Undersecretary Massimo Tononi said.

"Within a few days, there could be changes in the management structure. If there will be any, it will be soon," Tononi told reporters.

He also said there could be management changes at road regulator ANAS and state railways Ferrovie.

He added that Alitalia did not have current financial problems but had to make strategic choices related to its weighty "cost structure".

Italy's flag carrier said its operating loss widened to 128.8 million euros ($163.8 million) in the first three months of the year, as fuel costs and strikes weighed on results. Revenues also fell just over 3 percent against the same period last year.

It posts first-half results in September.

Italy's Transportation Minister Alessandro Bianchi, part of the new centre-left government, which took power in April elections, has also repeatedly suggested the time was ripe for changes to the management at the state-run airline.

At a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday, he said Alitalia's management was not fit to run the company.

Unions, which waged crippling wildcat strikes earlier this year, have laid much of the blame on Chief Executive Giancarlo Cimoli, the architect of the airline's turnaround plan.

Alitalia issued a statement earlier on Thursday explaining why its stake in the national market had fallen from around 80 percent at the end of 1994 to just over half at the end of 2005.

It listed reasons including deregulation in the European airline sector, loss of slots at Milan's Linate airport, anti-trust decisions and an "inadequate" government transport policy. Alitalia shares, which were in negative territory before Tononi's comments, were up 1 percent at 1130 GMT.
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Old July 18th, 2006, 02:41 AM   #86
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Alitalia June Passenger Trafic Up 2.9% On Yr
17 July 2006

MILAN (Dow Jones)--Italy's flagship airline, Alitalia SpA (AZA.MI) said Monday it carried 2.2 million passengers in June, up 2.9% compared with the same month in the previous year, the company said in a statement.

Alitalia's June traffic, measured in revenue passenger kilometers, increased 0.5% on the year despite the fact that the capacity, measured in available seat kilometers, decreased 4.2%.

The company said that the load factor grew 3.7% reaching 77.6%.
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Old September 7th, 2006, 07:24 AM   #87
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Alitalia says it will cancel 179 flights Thursday due to strike
6 September 2006

ROME (AP) - Italian state carrier Alitalia said a one-day strike scheduled for Thursday has forced the cancellation of 179 flights, including 74 international flights.

The walkout, called by CGIL, one of Italy's three main labor confederations, was called over concerns about contract renewals and to protest the management of the struggling airliner.

Another one-day air strike originally scheduled Thursday was postponed to Sept. 18 and shortened to four hours, the Sult transportation federation said.

A one-day local bus strike was scheduled for Sept. 15, and an eight-hour train strike will take place Sept. 27, Sult said.

Sult called its strikes over concerns ranging from safety issues to job cuts.
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Old September 8th, 2006, 10:40 PM   #88
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Alitalia to sell units affecting 1,000 staff-source
By Alberto Sisto

ROME, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Alitalia , Italy's largest airline, has told unions that it has begun the sale of administrative and information-technology units affecting 1,000 staff, a union source said on Friday.

The source, who declined to be named, said the sale would affect employees in Rome, Naples and elsewhere. The move was believed to exclusively affect Alitalia's spun-off service unit, which had roughly 9,250 employees at the end of March.

Its main flying unit had 10,873 as of March 31, according to company data.

"The company told the unions about the start of a procedure for the sale of certain branches of the company," the union source said.

Alitalia officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

The airline said on Aug. 30 it would announce within a few weeks new measures to carry out its 2005-2008 turnaround plan, which is meant to return the loss-making carrier to profit.

Hundreds of administrative staff in Rome staged wildcat strikes but there were no immediate reports of any impact on operations.

Unions said they will hold a meeting on Monday to discuss the moves. Alitalia is due to present its first-half results on Tuesday.

Alitalia's old industrial plan had called for the airline, which is nearly 50 percent owned by the state, to turn a profit in 2006 after years of losses. It withdrew that pledge in May, at least temporarily, when it announced a year-on-year widening of its first quarter operating loss.

Analysts are waiting for Alitalia to give a 2006 forecast along with first-half results on Tuesday.
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Old September 13th, 2006, 07:47 AM   #89
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Alitalia blames cost of fuel, increased competition for increase in first-half net loss
12 September 2006

ROME (AP) - Italian carrier Alitalia SpA said Tuesday its first-half net loss widened because of increased cost of fuel, competitive pressure from low cost-carriers and the negative impact of a series of strikes.

The state-controlled airline said its net loss for the six months ending in June was €221 million (US$280.9 million), from a loss of €125 million in the same period a year earlier.

Earnings before interest and tax rose to €132 million (US$167.8 million) from €84 million same period a year ago.

In a statement, Alitalia said it expects to post a positive result in the second half of the year.

Alitalia is dogged by political and union interference at a time when airlines are struggling to maintain profits in highly competitive markets and as fuel bills soar.

Strikes by workers unhappy with the airline's restructuring plans rocked Alitalia as recently as last week. A week of wildcat picketing in January forced the airline to cancel hundreds of flights.

The restructuring strategy includes cutting jobs and spinning off the airline's flight unit from its less profitable ground services business.

Italy's Economy Minister Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa in August publicly backed Alitalia Chief Executive Giancarlo Cimoli after reports suggested he would be fired because ministers thought management was not fit to run the airline.
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Old October 11th, 2006, 07:25 AM   #90
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Wednesday October 11, 1:12 AM
'Out of control' Alitalia heading to bankruptcy: Italian PM

MILAN (AFP) - Alitalia will go bankrupt unless a rescue plan is put in place within three months, Prime Minister Romano Prodi said as he described the finances of Italy's flag-carrier airline as "completely out of control."

"Alitalia is undergoing the most difficult period of its history," Prodi said at a meeting with transportation unions, according to participants quoted by Italian news agencies. "The situation is completely out of control, and I see no parachute".

"We have until the end of January to find a solution and avoid bankruptcy," he said.

The company forecasts a heavy second-half loss this year after registering a loss of 221 million euros (277 million dollars) in the first half and faces the fate of other medium-sized national airlines that have gone under, such as Belgium's Sabena, Swissair and Air Lib of France.

Unable to stanch its losses -- 167 million euros in 2005 -- Alitalia did not even try to balance its books this year, with red ink expected to approach 300 million euros, according to an internal document quoted by the press.

Alitalia, which is 49 percent controlled by the Italian government, has failed to turn itself around barely more than a year after raising one billion euros, covered by a group of banks and the state, to launch an ambitious restructuring plan.

What is more, relations with the unions began to nosedive with the plan, which called for 3,700 job cuts from the company's 20,000-strong workforce.

Prodi's office issued a statement saying it would place priority on "seeking strategic international alliances" in the bid to rescue the company.

Alitalia has frequently sought closer ties with Air France-KLM, but the Franco-Dutch company, which holds a two percent stake in the Italian carrier, has declined pending improvements in its financial outlook.

The transport ministry also suggested a fresh appeal to private investors, as the state is no longer able or willing to intervene financially.

Fabrizio Solari, secretary general of the left-wing Filt-CGIL union, said Prodi's proposed timeline was too long. "It will be necessary to act right away to remain alive in three months," he said.

The unions are especially angry over company president Giancarlo Cimoli's desire to sell off assets such as computer services and call centers.

The fate of Cimoli, shunned by several ministers and the unions, is expected to be decided in the coming days during a meeting with Prodi.

Labor relations have soured over recent months, with Cimoli demanding more flexibility from the workforce, which for its part accuses management of failing to honor commitments.

Such disputes have further tarnished the company's image, already blackened by abrupt flight cancellations, flight delays and missing baggage.

Transport Minister Alessandro Bianchi suggested that Alitalia needed a way to become stronger to enable it to seek a partner abroad.

"Alitalia should be placed in the heart of air transport as other countries have done," he said.

Alitalia may decide to limit its operations to a single airport, from the current two in northern Milan and one in Rome.

"The company needs productivity gains on the order of hundreds, not tens, of millions," said analyst Mike Powell of Germany's Dresdner Kleinwork bank. "But that's going to be hard. Alitalia is the last company led by unions and politicians."

Alitalia's share price closed 1.97 percent up at 0.83 euros on the Milan stock exchange after Tuesday's developments.
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Old October 12th, 2006, 11:39 PM   #91
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Alitalia says bankruptcy talk unfounded

ROME, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Loss-making Italian airline Alitalia said in a statement on Thursday that recent talk that it was at risk of bankruptcy and in need of a capital increase was unfounded.

Earlier this week Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi called the carrier's condition "out of control" and pledged a new strategy for Alitalia by January. The Italian state owns just under 50 percent of the airline.

Alitalia's statement also comes as Italy's transport minister on Thursday said the country would only welcome an outside investor in Alitalia if they were willing to pump money into the carrier to boost its prospects.

"If there is a company with its eyes on Alitalia, as there are many at this moment, with the air of crows waiting for a victim, they are mistaken," Alessandro Bianchi told journalists in Luxembourg on the sidelines of a European Union meeting.

Prodi is expected to meet with the company's embattled Chief Executive Giancarlo Cimoli next week.
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Old October 13th, 2006, 11:42 PM   #92
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The Italian exception - European airlines
14 October 2006
The Economist

Among Europe's flag carriers, Alitalia is faring worst against low-cost competitors

ITALY'S prime minister, Romano Prodi, this week described the nation's flag carrier, Alitalia, as out of control with no parachute. He said the government and the airline had only until January to hammer out a solution to avoid bankruptcy. So it looks as though Italy's flag carrier will at long last go the way of Swissair and Sabena, the Belgian flag carrier. Although the unions called off a one-day strike this week, they still exercise powerful control over any attempt to cut costs and drag the airline into the real world. An internal company report says the national carrier cannot make a profit even from capital already invested, and it cannot grow to survive because the more it flies, the more it loses. This week Alitalia's boss, Giancarlo Cimoli, was due to testify before a government committee, but his appearance was postponed and there were calls for his resignation.

A year ago Alitalia raised about euro1 billion ($1.2 billion) in a rescue rights-issue of shares, backed by the government, which owns 49% of the airline. Then it was talking confidently of moving swiftly into profit. But its plans were all based on a super-optimistic forecast of a $40 oil price, even as it was heading over $60. Predictably, after a damaging round of strikes last spring, Alitalia's losses have grown again after shrinking a little. It made a loss of euro221.5m in the first half of this year, up from euro124.7m in the same period in 2005. Mr Prodi and Mr Cimoli are now trying to frighten the union into concessions to save the airline. But investors and frustrated travellers should not get their hopes up: Alitalia rescues come round as frequently and fruitlessly as changes of government. It has chomped its way through nearly euro5 billion in the past ten years, to no avail.

Apart from the difficulty of cutting jobs and raising productivity in the Italian public sector, Alitalia is inherently less well-placed than other national airlines, such as Air France/KLM, Lufthansa and British Airways, to cope with the growing competition in Europe from vibrant low-cost carriers, led by Ryanair and easyJet. Whereas other flag carriers make about two-thirds of their revenues from long-haul flights, where there is no low-cost/low-fare competition, Alitalia has barely one-third of its business in long-haul. In its home market it faces fierce competition from four Italian budget airlines, plus the aggressive presence in the country of Ryanair and easyJet. Both long ago smelled the blood in the water around what a former easyJet boss called one of the most inefficient carriers in Europe.

Earlier this year Alitalia tried to buy the remains of one low-cost competitor, Volare, which went bust in 2004, only to have the deal overturned in a court challenge by a competitor earlier this month. Buying or starting an in-house low-cost carrier was one of the earlier strategies employed by flag carriers trying to fend off budget airline competition. But British Airways and Air France/KLM have now moved on to a more straightforward approach, although Lufthansa still has its own in-house budget carrier.

If you can't beat 'em...

The response of the more robust flag carriers to the low-cost challenge is now to attempt to match the budget airlines in their short-haul flights, while using them to feed traffic into their more profitable full-service long-haul routes. That is what Aer Lingus did successfully under Willie Walsh, whose success there earned him the top job at British Airways last year. No sooner was Aer Lingus privatised by the Irish government earlier this month than Michael O'Leary, the pugnacious boss of Ryanair, made a hostile bid for it—a move which underscores the emergence of the budget airlines as the dominant force in intra-European air travel. Exane BNP Paribas, a French investment bank, reckons that the low-cost carriers' share of the European internal market has grown from 24% last year to 27% now, and predicts that it will reach 33% by 2009.

Mr O'Leary's American investors were appalled by his bid, since the acquisition of Aer Lingus's conventional transatlantic long-haul routes would sully the purity of Ryanair's ultra-low-cost business model. But his move can simply be seen as opportunistic, since Aer Lingus was probably under-priced at sale. Taking control of Aer Lingus would also put him in a powerful position to stop Dublin airport's grandiose expansion plans, which he fears will put up landing charges at Ryanair's biggest base. And if an open-skies deal were ever signed between Europe and America, opening up London Heathrow, Aer Lingus has slots there which could be converted into transatlantic flights. Its brand would have great appeal to American travellers.

Air France/KLM, Lufthansa and British Airways—the Big Three of European aviation—have all deployed similar tactics in competing head-to-head with the budget airlines. For short-haul flights they have simplified their economy classes, introduced online reservations and virtually cut out travel agents' commissions. Catering has been reduced to sandwiches stored in the back of the plane, and Iberia, Spain's flag carrier, even charges for those now. There are usually three rather than four cabin attendants in economy class, and seat rows are crammed as close together as they would be in an easyJet or Ryanair plane. Meanwhile, poor old Alitalia still struggles to catch up.
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Old October 15th, 2006, 06:28 PM   #93
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Italy's Alitalia seeks partners in Asia: minister

ROME, Oct 15, 2006 (AFP) - Italy is seeking a business partner "in the Gulf, Asia, India, China or Thailand" for its troubled national airline Alitalia, Deputy Prime Minister Francesco Rutelli said Sunday.

Financial rescue for the cash-strapped carrier with losses of 167 million euros (208 million dollars) last year, would depend on a far-reaching industrial plan to be prepared by the government, which has a 49 percent stake in Alitalia, Rutelli said in an interview with the newspaper la Repubblica.

It would also depend on a basic change in direction, injection of private capital and an international alliance, Rutelli said.

"Asia has money and planes but it lacks routes and stopover points," he suggested.

"Others, such as the French or Germans could be less generous allies," the minister speculated.

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi this month set a three-month deadline to come up with a new, last-chance rescue plan.

Alitalia has previously proposed a link-up with Air France-KLM, but the Franco-Dutch group, with a two percent stake in Alitalia, has declined this prospect until the Italian company has ensured its recovery.

Unable to staunch its losses, Alitalia has decided not to attempt to balance its books this year and could lose as much as another 300 million euros, according to an internal company document leaked to the press.
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Old October 18th, 2006, 02:39 AM   #94
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Italy PM discusses possible tieups for Alitalia

ROME, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Italy's Prime Minister Romano Prodi discussed possible options to rescue Alitalia in a meeting with the airline's top executive on Tuesday, a statement from Prodi's office said.

The options Prodi and Alitalia CEO Giancarlo Cimoli discussed included partnerships for the carrier, which is struggling amid mounting losses and pressure from unions.

The government has pledged a new strategy for the troubled carrier by the end of January, after Prodi himself last week declared Alitalia's financial condition "out of control".

The identity of any potential partner remains unclear, but Italian Deputy Minister Francesco Rutelli has said he prefers Alitalia form an alliance with an Asian airline.
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Old October 19th, 2006, 03:36 AM   #95
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Thai Airlines could be partner to Alitalia -chair

BANGKOK, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Thai Airways International could be open to a partnership with troubled Italian airline Alitalia , the Thai carrier's chairman told Reuters on Wednesday.

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Francesco Rutelli has repeatedly said Alitalia, which is struggling under mounting losses, needs commercial agreements with Asian airlines to secure its long-term future.

"Thai Airways could be a partner (to Alitalia)," Chairman Apinan Sumanaseni said when asked about the possibility of forming an alliance with the Italian carrier.

But the chairman said that Thai Airways may be limited by its membership of the Star Alliance airline partnership, under which around 20 airlines share things such as loyalty programmes and in which Alitalia does not participate.

"Thai Airways, as partner of Star Alliance, has some restriction on being a partner of other airlines outside the group," he said.

"There are several ways of forming partnerships and cooperations which we have to consider if it really happens." Sumanaseni said, however, that there had been no official discussions about it.
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Old October 21st, 2006, 03:16 AM   #96
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Alitalia tells CEO to consider strategic accords with other carriers
20 October 2006

ROME (AP) - Alitalia SpA has instructed Chief Executive Giancarlo Cimoli to begin studying possible strategic accords with other, unspecified carriers as he struggling airline seeks to turn around mounting losses.

In a statement published late Thursday after a board meeting, the company said it has instructed Cimoli to consider new alliances as a key element of its turnaround strategy.

Alitalia is already member of the SkyTeam global alliance of air carriers, which includes Air France, KLM, Continental Airlines, CSA, Delta Air Lines, Aeromexico, Korean Airlines and Northwest.

Air France has been touted as a partner for Alitalia, but the French airline has said it would welcome an intensified relationship only if the Italian carrier is financially restructured.

Alitalia also plans to introduce new airplanes, boost sales and marketing through direct sales through the Internet, and reduce costs by 24 percent, excluding fuel costs, the statement said.

The company reported revenue of 3.1 billion euros ($3.89 billion) in the first eight months of 2006, falling 82 million euros ($103 million) short of its projections, because of strikes and fuel costs, the statement said.

However, Alitalia has enough cash flow to cover the company's financial needs over the next 12 months, it said.

Speaking earlier this week, Premier Romano Prodi stressed that European Union rules do not allow Italy to grant aid to Alitalia, which reported a loss of 221.5 million euros ($278 million) in the first half of this year, nearly double its loss in the same period last year.
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Old October 24th, 2006, 04:50 PM   #97
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Italy prods Air France to invest in Alitalia

ROME, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Italy's Transport Minister urged Air France on Tuesday to invest in Alitalia and not wait until after the ailing Italian carrier has been restructured.

Alessandro Bianchi said he was concerned at the French airline's position that it would not consider buying into its Italian peer until after its finances are put in order.

"I read with concern (CEO Jean-Cyril) Spinetta's comments in which he said Air France would only be prepared to intervene after the restructure," Bianchi told reporters.

"But if we restructure it, we'll give Alitalia to whomever we like. However, if we do it with Air France, it could have an option."

Air France has often been considered a likely buyer for the loss-making Italian airline, but recently Spinetta made it clear he did not want to invest in Alitalia in its current state.

Bianchi also said the government was not considering appointing a new chief executive to the loss-making airline, which Prime Minister Romano Prodi said must have a rescue plan by January to save it from bankruptcy.

(Additional reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten in Paris)
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Old November 2nd, 2006, 06:20 PM   #98
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Italian administrative court says Alitalia planned purchase of Volare is invalid
2 November 2006

ROME (AP) - An Italian administrative court ruled Thursday that Alitalia SpA's planned purchase of smaller carrier Volare was invalid, dealing another blow to the cash-strapped airline.

The Rome court upheld a previous ruling calling for a new bidding process for Volare, which went bankrupt in 2004. The bid was won by Alitalia with a euro40 million (US$51 million) offer.

The planned purchase of Volare, which owns slots at Milan's Malpensa airport, was part of Alitalia's strategy to make up for domestic market shares losses from low-cost competitors.

Thursday's ruling came in response to complaints by another Italian airline, Air One, the second-highest bidder in the auction for Volare. Air One claims that Alitalia is an unfair competitor and argues that the carrier received state aid and thus should not be allowed to buy Volare.

Alitalia has forecast it could lose euro125 million (US$159 million) in revenue by 2008 if Volare goes to domestic rival Air One.

The government has pledged a strategy to rescue the state-controlled airline by the end of January.

The state-controlled carrier has said its debt rose in September to euro1.02 billion (US$1.3 billion), nearly the same level as its market capitalization. Amid strikes, rising fuel prices and hefty operating costs, the company's first-half 2006 net loss nearly doubled from the same period in 2005 to euro221.5 million (US$282.5 million).
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Old November 9th, 2006, 04:32 PM   #99
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Alitalia female flight attendants allowed to wear trousers instead of skirts
9 November 2006

ROME (AP) - Alitalia's female flight attendants will be allowed to swap their traditional skirts for trousers, breaking with half a century of rigid dress code at Italy's flagship carrier, a union said Thursday.

Following negotiations with unions, Alitalia will offer the new option starting next Wednesday, said Rosanna Ruscito, a representative of the Fit-Cisl union and a flight attendant herself.

"We spend our working days traveling from one airport to the other, with great weather differences, snow and freezing temperatures, only wearing a little skirt," she said. "If I go to a warm country, then I prefer the skirt, but if I go to Chicago, Moscow or New York, I want to be free to choose to wear pants" in the winter.

Ruscito said Alitalia had so far not allowed its female crew members to wear trousers because it wanted to project "an image of femininity."

Alitalia flight attendants are considered icons of Italian beauty and style, and top fashion designers have been enlisted over the years to create their prim jackets and skirts.

Ruscito said some Alitalia ground workers already wear pants, and it would not be expensive for the company to produce more.

No one with Alitalia was immediately available for comment.

Ruscito, who had not yet seen the trousers, said she expected they will the same sober dark blue color as the skirts. She pointed out that other international airlines already allow their flight attendants to wear trousers.
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Old November 18th, 2006, 03:18 AM   #100
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Alitalia denies partnership talks with Thai Airways

ROME, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Troubled Italian airline Alitalia on Friday denied it was in talks with Thai Airways over a partnership.

The denial came after Thai Airways Executive Vice President Wallop Bhukkanasut said in a Reuters interview that his airline was in unofficial talks with Alitalia over a partnership.
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